Minjee Lee shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday at Pine Needles and will to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open.
The 26-year-old Aussie overcame an early bogey on the par-3 fifth hole, by reeling off five birdies over her next seven holes, highlighted by four in a row on Nos. 9, 10, 11 and 12 to reach 13 under par.
“My approach (on Sunday) is going to be the same as the last three days. I’m just going to try and make as many birdies as I can and give myself as many opportunities as I can on the greens,” said Lee, who won her maiden major last year in France.
The world No. 4 will enter Sunday trying to win her second consecutive stroke-play event on the LPGA Tour: she won the Founders Cup last month – the tour’s last stroke-play event.
Lee will also be chasing history on Sunday in Southern Pines (NC), in terms of scoring: at 13-under 200, Lee was just three off the pace of Juli Inkster’s U.S. Women’s Open scoring record, in relation to par. Inkster finished 16-under 272 in the 1999 edition at Old Waverly, a par-72 track. Pine Needles is a par 71.
Mina Harigae will be paired with Lee in Sunday’s final grouping. The American shot 70 on Saturday to sit 10 under par. She joined Lee as the only two players in the field who were double-digit deep in the red.
England’s Bronte Law (68) was third on 7 under.
South Korea’s Jin Young Ko, the world No. 1, struggled to an even-par 71 and was among a logjam of six players tied for fourth on 6 under, along with three-time major winner Anna Nordqvist (72), Xiyu Lin (67), Lydia Ko (66), Hye-Jin Choi (72) and amateur Ingrid Lindblad (71).
American superstar Nelly Korda reached 7 under through 15 holes but bogeyed her final three holes to post 70 and drop to 14th-place on 4 under.
“Definitely not the finish I wanted,” said Korda. “That was tough. I’m sure that was tough to watch, too.”
Lexi Thompson (72) was two further back on 2-under par.
U.S. Women’s Open: Leaderboard
Top-10: Round 3
Pos-Player-Score (Rd 3)
1. Minjee Lee -13 (-4)
2. Mina Harigae -10 (-1)
3. Bronte Law -7 (-3)
4. Lydia Ko -6 (-5)
4. Xiyu Lin -6 (-4)
4. Jin Young Ko -6 (E)
4. Ingrid Lindblad -6 (E)
4. Hye-Jin Choi -6 (+1)
4. Anna Nordqvist -6 (+1)
10. Leona Maguire -5 (-3)
10. Eun-Hee Ji -5 (-2)
10. Megan Khang -5 (-1)
10. Moriya Jutanugarn -5 (E)